What happens after surgery?
When you wake up from surgery, you will be in a recovery room. You will have an oxygen mask covering your nose and mouth. This mask delivers a cool mist of oxygen, which helps eliminate the remaining anesthesia from your system and soothes your throat. Your throat might be sore from the breathing tube that was present during your surgery. This soreness usually subsides after one or two days.
Once you are more alert, the nurse in the recovery room will switch your oxygen delivery device to a nasal cannula, a small plastic tube that hooks over your ears and lies beneath your nose. Your nurse will frequently check your blood oxygen level. Depending on the percentage of oxygen measured in your blood, you might need to keep the oxygen in place after you are transferred to your hospital room.
Some patients experience bloating, cramping and shoulder pain from the carbon dioxide that was placed in the abdomen during surgery. You will be given pain medicine to relieve your discomfort. Bloating and pain will subside during your hospital stay.
Recovering from surgery
Once you have recovered from anesthesia, you will be transferred to your hospital room. After your surgery, the nurses will measure your "intake and output." They will document all the fluids that enter your body, and measure and collect any urine or fluids you produce, including those from tubes or drains placed during surgery.
- Diet - Your diet guidelines will be directed by your surgeon. You may begin to drink water the night of surgery. You may progress to other clear liquids the day after surgery. You will gradually be able to drink other liquids and eat soft foods. You will gradually be able to eat solid foods (within three to four days after surgery).
- Activity - You will be encouraged to get out of bed, starting the night of surgery. The more you move, the less the chance for complications such as pneumonia or blood clots in the veins in your legs. Activity will also help remove the carbon dioxide in your abdomen.
Your recovery at home
Normally, you will be discharged from the hospital the day after surgery.
- Activity -- For 8 to 12 weeks after surgery, do not lift or push anything heavier than five pounds. Avoid activities that increase abdominal pressure, especially sit-ups.
You are encouraged to gradually increase your activity level. Walking is great exercise. Walking will help your general recovery by strengthening your muscles, keeping your blood circulating to prevent blood clots, and helping your lungs remain clear.
- Diet -- A registered dietitian will visit you on your day of discharge to review your dietary instructions. You will be following a soft antireflux diet. While on this diet, avoid caffeine, carbonated beverages, and citrus drinks. Follow this diet until your next appointment (within 7 to 10 days after you are discharged from the hospital).
- Incision care -- You might notice some minor swelling around the incision. This is normal. However, call your healthcare provider if you have a fever, excessive swelling, redness, bleeding, or increasing pain. The small pieces of tape covering your incisions (called steri-strips) will gradually fall off on their own. Do not pull these strips off yourself. If the strips do not fall off on their own, your healthcare provider will remove them at your follow-up appointment.
A follow-up appointment will be scheduled two days after surgery if you live far away. You will be asked to stay in a hotel/motel the day before the appointment. If you live in the area, your follow-up appointment will be about one week after your surgery. You will have a chest X-ray, and your surgeon or nurse practitioner will assess the wound site and your recovery. The surgeon or nurse practitioner will provide guidelines about your activity and diet at this time.